Home' National Liquor News : NLN SEPT 2016 Contents It's not widely known, but Brown Brothers
Moscato turns 21 next year. Twenty-one
years is quite a stint for a wine style that
is, surprisingly, viewed as very much a new
phenomenon in the world of Australian wine.
When you dig deeper into our nation's
history, it's a wine style that we should have
been embracing a long time ago.
MUSCAT AND AUSTRALIA
Like most things in Australian wine, everything
starts with James Busby.
One of the godfathers of Australian wine,
Busby is credited with bringing together the first
serious collection of wine grapevines to Australia.
What really set Busby's 1830s collection apart
was not just the scope of varieties but the calibre
of the material, with cuttings sourced from some
of the finest vineyards of Europe.
Among Busby's varied assortment was a
sizeable selection of grapes from Jerez in southern
Spain. With an eye for making his collection
comprehensive, Busby brought from Spain a
selection of different Muscat varieties, believing
that the dual purpose value (as both table grapes
and for making fortified wine) of these distinctive
grapes made them particularly valuable.
While Busby's collection was eventually
forgotten in a corner of Sydney's Botanical
Gardens, that dual nature of the Muscat
varieties meant that they were enthusiastically
embraced and endorsed as particularly suitable
for Australian conditions.
Since then, Muscat has become a real
workhorse of Australian wine. In Rutherglen,
it is still the fortified grape par excellence. And
in our inland wine regions, it has helped jazz
up cask wine for decades. Muscat has always
With such a resource in the ground, however,
it seems curious that we've only 'discovered'
Moscato as a wine style in the last 20 years.
That certainly isn't the case in northern
Italy, and particularly in the spiritual home of
Moscato in Asti. Here, Muscat grapes have
been picked and turned into a light, sweet,
low alcohol white wine for ages, the resultant
Moscato revered for its aromatics, vibrancy
and light fizz (frizzante).
Moscato in northern Italy is rightly
considered to be one of the great sweet wines
of the world. Yet it was almost ignored here
in Australia, despite our love for and prolific
plantings of Muscat. So have we missed a trick
Peter Hampson, ILG general manager trading
and marketing, certainly thinks so: "It's fair
to say we are somewhat behind the trends in
Europe and America," he said.
"Sweeter styles of wine have had a fair
foothold overseas for some time. We have
been a little slower because of the suppliers'
reluctance to go down this path."
It's notable that Hampson mentions the US
Moscato market, as the category is booming
in the US. In 2013 alone the Moscato category
racked up $625 million worth of sales, with its
popularity now eclipsing Sauvignon Blanc.
In fact, Moscato is so cool stateside that
celebrities like Nicki Minaj are now getting
in on the act. Minaj has a range of flavoured
Moscato styles that while hardly serious
wines (mixed with things like coconut juice
and barely recognisable as anything but grape
juice), they are attracting young drinkers
Locally, the Moscato category has been
growing strongly too, nudging a high of 20.5
per cent growth year-on-year in 2012. We're
clearly catching up.
If there is one reason why Moscato has
enjoyed such strong growth, it could be simply
a matter of changing consumer tastes, as
Hampson explains: "The sweeter style lends
itself to those drinkers who are graduating
from RTDs and cider to the more refined
bottled wine," he said.
That notion of Moscato as the gateway of
the wine world is backed up by Different Drop
director Tom Hollings: "With its sweetness,
lower alcohol, slight spritz and attractive
colour, Moscato just works really well as an
introduction to wine," he said.
Daryl Fisher of Fisher Fine
Wines believes that
Moscato is already
MOSCATO IS A QUIET ACHIEVER IN THE AUSTRALIAN WINE SPACE. WHILE WE HAVEN'T SEEN
QUITE THE SAME BOOM THAT MOSCATO HAS SEEN IN THE US, IT IS A WINE THAT CAN PROVIDE
GREAT MARGIN FOR RETAILERS AS ANDREW GRAHAM DISCUSSES.
How sweet it is
54 | SEPTEMBER 2016 NATIONAL LIQUOR NEWS
"Given the margin [retailers] typically make on a four
or six-pack of RTD or cider compared to what they can
potentially bank on bottles of Moscato the difference can
be massive," Matt Redin, Angove.
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